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History [edit]
Conventional Internet routers and LAN switches operate on a best effort basis. This equipment is less
expensive, less complex and faster and thus more popular than competing more complex technologies that
provided QoS mechanisms. There were four Type of service bits and three Precedence bits provided in
each IP packet header, but they were not generally respected. These bits were later re-defined
asDifferentiated services code points (DSCP) and are sometimes honored in peered links on the modern
With the advent of IPTV and IP telephony, QoS mechanisms are increasingly available to the end user.
A number of attempts for layer 2 technologies that add QoS tags to the data have gained popularity in the
past. Examples are frame relay, asynchronous transfer mode(ATM) and multiprotocol label
switching (MPLS) (a technique between layer 2 and 3). Despite these network technologies remaining in
use today, this kind of network lost attention after the advent of Ethernet networks. Today Ethernet is, by
far, the most popular layer 2 technology. Ethernet may offer QoS through its 802.1p.
In Ethernet, virtual local area networks (VLAN) may be used to separate different QoS levels. For
example fibre-to-the-home switches typically offer several Ethernet ports connected to different VLANs. One
VLAN may be used for Internet access (low priority), one for IPTV (higher priority) and one for IP telephony
(highest priority). Different Internet service providers may use different VLANs.
Qualities of traffic [edit]
In packet-switched networks, quality of service is affected by various factors, which can be divided into
human and technical factors. Human factors include: stability of service, availability of service, delays,
user information. Technical factors include: reliability, scalability, effectiveness, maintainability, grade of
service, etc.
Many things can happen to packets as they travel from origin to destination, resulting in the following
problems as seen from the point of view of the sender and receiver:
Low throughput
Due to varying load from disparate users sharing the same network resources, the bit rate (the
maximum throughput) that can be provided to a certain data stream may be too low for realtime
multimedia services if all data streams get the same scheduling priority.
Dropped packets
The routers might fail to deliver (drop) some packets if their data loads are corrupted, or the packets
arrive when the router buffers are already full. The receiving application may ask for this information to
be retransmitted, possibly causing severe delays in the overall transmission.
Sometimes packets are corrupted due to bit errors caused by noise and interference, especially in
wireless communications and long copper wires. The receiver has to detect this and, just as if the
packet was dropped, may ask for this information to be retransmitted.
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It might take a long time for each packet to reach its destination, because it gets held up in long queues,
or it takes a less direct route to avoid congestion. This is different from throughput, as the delay can
build up over time, even if the throughput is almost normal. In some cases, excessive latency can render
an application such as VoIP or online gaming unusable.
Packets from the source will reach the destination with different delays. A packet's delay varies with its
position in the queues of the routers along the path between source and destination and this position
can vary unpredictably. This variation in delay is known as jitter and can seriously affect the quality of
streaming audio and/or video.
Out-of-order delivery
When a collection of related packets is routed through a network, different packets may take different
routes, each resulting in a different delay. The result is that the packets arrive in a different order than
they were sent. This problem requires special additional protocols responsible for rearranging out-of-
order packets to an isochronous state once they reach their destination. This is especially important for
video and VoIP streams where quality is dramatically affected by both latency and lack of sequence.